By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Long after the exit of Ade Abolurin in 2015, the NSCDC Commandant General who laid a solid foundation for the service, a vacuum of graveyard silence greeted the service, owing to paucity of leadership. It felt like the former boss left with all the ideas meant to drive the service forward.
But few years after the agency was suspended mid-air in administrative purgatory, former President Muhammadu Buhari took the right decision by appointing Ahmed Abubakar Audi, who came with the right ideas of repositioning the service.
The Commandant General who took charge on the 1st of March, 2021, said at his inauguration that his vision and mission for the Corps is to rejig, revamp, restructure, rejuvenate and reposition the Corps for optimal performance to keep up with the mandate of maintaining law and order.
Audi, who rose through the ranks and passed through the crucibles of the Corps in the last 26 has so far kept his promises by safeguarding critical government installations, protecting national assets, waging war against insurgency/banditry, equipping of the specialized agro rangers force in tracking herders/farmers clashes and restoring peace through the alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
As soon as he took over, Audi commenced work immediately by establishing the female squad to enhance security in schools that are susceptible to bandits’ attack.
He said the squad was necessitated by the waves of insecurity across the country.
“Female Squad is a child of necessity, borne out of the need to effectively curtail recent upsurge of insecurity occasioned by armed banditry, kidnapping, insurgency and the need to effectively implement government’s proposed Safe School programme.
“Recent upsurge and frequency of attacks by bandits who engage in kidnapping of students for ransom has made it imperative to focus attention on intensifying security in schools environment.
“This is a proactive measure toward guaranteeing safety and restoring the confidence of students, parents, teachers and the community in the country’s security architecture.
He explained that the Corps would continue to take proactive measures in collaboration with sister agencies to guarantee security for the socio-economic development of the country. The Commandant-General charged personnel to continue to do their best in combating security challenges facing the nation.
Commending the initiative, former Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola commended the leadership of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps for taking the lead in establishing a Female Squad as part of strategies to address the present security challenges confronting the nation.
The minister who was at the passing out parade at the Civil Defence college in Katsina, expressed his delight over the initiative, saying that the move will no doubt add value to the security architecture of the country, while at the same time enhancing the capacity and operational efficiency of the Corps.
He assured the leadership of the Corps of government’s resolve to continue to enhance the capacity of the NSCDC to effectively deliver on its mandates through adequate funding and provision of modern security equipments.
The former minister urged the newly established female squad to exhibit high level of discipline, focus, vigilance and mental alertness in discharging their responsibilities while calling on the citizens to provide operatives with actionable intelligence that will assist in finding lasting solution to the problem of incessant kidnapping of school children for ransom.
Speaking on the significance of women in the fight against terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other forms on insecurity, Audi reiterated that since women account for more than half of the nation’s population, it is very apt to include them in all aspects of nation building as studies have shown that women are more passionate about matters affecting security and wellbeing of children. Moreso, women are most likely to attract the cooperation, confidence and trust of the citizens than their male counterparts.
He maintained that the spike in security challenges in the country occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram insurgency, armed banditry, robbery, kidnappings, farmers/herders clashes among others necessitated the need for NSCDC to redouble its efforts by strategizing to provide a safe and secure environment, where meaningful development can thrive.
Also in his bid to avert the looming hunger crisis staring the country in the face, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) graduated over 10,000 agro rangers drawn from different state commands/formations of the Corps to help build farmers confidence by curbing the clashes between farmers and herders in farming regions.
The Commandant-General, Dr Ahmed Audi, who reviewed the passing out activities explained that the training was in a bid to stave off hunger as well as other worrying threats and help figure out how exactly it will intervene for best results.
In a statement by the Corps Director of Public Relations, Commandant Odumosu Olusola, the NSCDC boss charged the newly trained personnel to display professionalism in the discharge of their duties, expressing optimism that the gallant officers who have been trained intensively for eight weeks would help the country increase food production by providing enhanced security for herders and farmers.
The statement explains that the agro rangers is a specialised department in the Corps established in 2016 through the initiatives of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and its interior counterpart to provide security and protection for agro allied investments, farm lands, farmers and other investments in the country’s agricultural sector.
The CG explained that the training and equipping of more personnel for the Agro Rangers department was necessitated by recent events of violent clashes between farmers and herders in some parts of the country which has to be checked before it snowballs into an unmanageable situation.
On partnership and intelligence gathering to address insecurity, the CG has invested more time and resources to overcome banditry, insurgency and other security challenges in the country.
Also, the Corps had given operational licence to 1,364 Private Guard Companies from 2003 till date in helping security agencies with local intelligence to quell insecurity. Audi said, the private guard companies must work together with security agencies to address security challenges in the country.
At a brief ceremony during presentation of operational licenses to operators, Audi called on the owners of private guard companies to share information with the Corps on any criminal activities. He said, “The country is passing through crisis. We need to collaborate. Your position is very critical, and you must do your best in areas of intelligence gathering to help in addressing these security challenges.
“Nobody is an island. We need each other. Everyone should contribute his quota where necessary.
“Today’s occasion is as important to me as it is to the operators that will be receiving their licences.
“Therefore, we have a place in history together that we must guide jealously. While it is my duty to ensure utmost performance of the Industry, special attention would be paid to the recipients of today, towards ensuring that you perform exceptionally in line with my dream to upbeat the Corps operational activities as well as the Private Security Industry in order to play our expected role in the face of the present day security challenges.”
He reminded them that the Corps remains their only regulator and security reports must be rendered on a regular basis to the service. He warned them against unprofessional conducts, saying “any act not in line with laid down rules will be dealt with.
“Your licence is not transferable and can be revoked if you fail to renew as and when due.
“You are prohibited from using firearms but if you have a job that may require the use of arms, our arms squad in our State Commands would provide the cover when you liaise with the State Commandants.
“The use of ranks and accoutrement of any kind that has semblance to the military or paramilitary is prohibited.
No company should engage in the training of guards without the involvement of our State Commands.
“The biometrics of all your guards must be captured in the PSID platform and the number conspicuously displayed on their uniforms.
“First-hand information of any major security breach in your company’s coverage areas must be reported to the Corps to avoid sanctions.
The Commandant General, said promotion of officers under his watch will be based on merit. Speaking while decorating 5 Acting Deputy Commandant Generals (DCGs) and 12 Commandants, the CG, lamented that some of the newly promoted officers were denied promotion for the past 11 years.
“When this promotion came up, I removed some people on the list who were promoted arbitrarily within the past 3 years. This kind of practice is not fair to people who have been denied promotion for more than 11 years.
“As the CG of this Corps, I will ensure that merit prevails. The era of sacrificing merit at the altar of mediocrity is over.
“When I was appointed, I told you that I am a product of merit. I will continue to promote positive culture for a unique identity for the Corps”.
He urged them to mentor the young ones and shun corruption.
“All of us must join hands and work together. You must teach the young ones and encourage them to do better. I also urge you not to soil your hands in unproductive ventures; as corruption will not be condoned under my watch”.
On welfare package for officers, the CG said he places high premium on the welfare of personnel, knowing undoubtedly that to build a virile, dynamic and productive workforce, conscious efforts must be made to motivate the staff towards putting in their best for more dedicated service.
In view of the above, the Commandant General stressed that he will leave no stone unturned to ensure high welfare packages for officers and men of the Corps through a robust and well-structured plan to increase personnel morale.
Audi who stressed this in different fora said his roadmap for the Corps cannot be compromised, having established the template of his planned thoughts and possible action to follow in line with his avowed commitment to initiate programs that would benefit the entire personnel and not a section of the Corps.
The Corps in a statement recently released by its spokesperson, Olusola Odumosu said “It is worthy of note that within eight months of his assumption of leadership of the Corps, the Commandant General ensured the promotion of officers and men who have remained on same rank for 3 to 10 years, he began processing the payment of the backlog of promotion arrears of personnel which was meant to have been paid by the last administration and gave special promotion, awards and commendation letters to officers who distinguished themselves in line of duty within his 100 days in office.
“In furtherance, Dr Audi gave out cheques to personnel who sustained various degrees of injuries in the cause of discharging their duties.
A breakdown of the sum indicated that over N35 million was paid to personnel with various degree of injuries, N260m as backlog while over N78m had been paid as burial benefits to deceased personnel’s next of kins.
The report further indicted that the disbursements were made under the staff welfare and Group Personal Accident (GPA) policy of the Corps.
Odumosu said that NSCDC CG, Ahmed Audi, in his commitment to reposition the Corps and make it a world class security outfit, had been working tirelessly to ensure all outstanding benefits are duly paid to beneficiaries to serve as morale booster for others.
Ongoing is another phase of compilation of remaining personnel that has sustained injuries in the cause of discharging their duties and about 60 officers and men will be paid not less than twenty-one million naira (N21m) as Group Personal Accident Benefits.
WAR AGAINST OIL THIEVES
Aside arresting several oil thieves and denying them free access to operate, the Commandant General recently charged officers and men of the corps to eradicate crude oil theft from the nation as a way to key into president Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s administration’s major agenda.
He urged unrepentant oil thieves to relocate to other countries and continue their nefarious acts as men of the Corps are ready to go after and apprehend them all.
Speaking recently in Abuja at the passing out parade of the course 10 Basic weapon handling training. The CG charged the officers and men to reduce, if possible eradicate oil theft in the nation while urging the oil thieves to relocate to other countries or risk being apprehended.
“Don’t forget also that the NSCDC needs to protect critical national assets and infrastructure. That means we are expected to protect and provide security for key Installations in the nation, one of which is oil pipelines.
“You should all dedicate yourselves to doing your best to reduce and if possible, eradicate oil theft. We must arrest and apprehend oil thieves. Most of them are very good in vandalising our pipelines.
“We advice those of them who do not want to relent and want to continue to launch mayhem, damaging our pipelines to relocate to other countries otherwise, officers of the Corps will go after and arrest all of them.”
The CG further said aside the training of officers and men in Arms and Weapon handling, other specialized areas have been created and keenly nurtured such as the CGs Intelligence squad, CGs Antivandal squad, CGs Marine squad, RRS, Female squad, Crack squad and most recently, the Safe School programme saddled with the responsibility of safe-guarding our schools from outlaws.
He maintained that every personnel who wears uniform must be taught and learn how to handle riffles in case of eventuality, especially, as the country is passing through a new form of conflict of terrorism and insurgency that has metamorphosed into banditry.
Based on these uncommon transformation of the service within a short period of time, many at the court of public opinion have urged President Bola Tinubu to support the Commandant General in his determination of transforming the service.